The CIPD and mental health charity Mind have published an updated mental health guide for managers, which it is hoped will help improve the support they offer employees.
A recent CIPD survey that found only 32% of organisations train line managers to support staff with a mental health issue, and the publication of Mind research that suggested just 42% of employees felt their manager would notice if they were struggling with poor mental health.
Mental health interventions
The People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health offers general advice on what mental health is and where employees can go for support. It also provides specific advice on good practice in recruitment, early intervention, return to work and how to encourage people to talk about their mental health.
“Mental health is still the elephant in the room in most workplaces, and a culture of silence can have a damaging impact on a business as well as individuals,” said Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD.
“The role of line managers in employee wellbeing is vital. They are often the first port of call for someone needing help, and are most likely to see warning signs of poor mental health among employees.
“With the right capabilities and tools in place, they will have the ability and confidence to have sensitive conversations, intervene when needed, and signpost to the right support when needed.
“The positive impact that this can have on people’s wellbeing is enormous, but the business will also reap the benefits of happier, healthier, more engaged and productive employees,” she added.
The guide outlines how managers can help build resilience among the workforce, using interventions such as the NHS’s five steps to mental wellbeing. It also details potential workplace triggers for distress, such as people working long hours without taking breaks, job insecurity and lone working.
A checklist on how managers can start a conversation about an employee’s wellbeing is also provided. This includes asking simple, non-judgemental questions; being prepared for periods of silence; speaking calmly and avoiding interruptions such as phone calls.
It also details possible adjustments to help employees, such as the provision of quiet rooms, the reallocation of some tasks or the introduction of flexible hours.
Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “Given how much of our lives are spent at work, and how common poor mental health is, it’s really important that our employers and managers take an active role in helping us keep well and supporting us when we need it.
“Employers are increasingly taking steps to promote good wellbeing at work. But we know that too often, employees still don’t feel able to talk about issues such as stress, anxiety or depression, fearing they’ll be discriminated against, or overlooked for promotion.
“Equally, managers often shy away from the subject, worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. But staying silent and doing nothing can make things worse.”